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franciscan - September 1997

© The Society of Saint Francis, 1997

Community Routes

Freeland Abbess

At Freeland, knowing that in May Patricia would end her maximum term of office, the Sisters spent time in discussing the sections Of the Mother in the Constitution of the Community of St Clare. No longer did the sisters feel that ‘Mother’ was the appropriate title for their elected leader. Having looked at, and rejected several other possible ways in which she could be addressed when circumstances demand some title, it was decided to return to roots and use ‘Abbess’, as do all other Poor Clares.

After that, they then elected Paula as their Abbess for the next three years. Earlier this year she had celebrated her silver jubilee of profession. She is known to many already as the printer.

For the same reason also, in future the sisters will use OSC (Order of St Clare) after their names, although they will retain ‘The Community of St Clare’ as the overall name of the community.

Brother Brian retires ‘not-out’

Brother Daniel writes:
“Where is Brian at the moment?” This is a question often asked in any of the ANZ houses: the reply is usually, “Where is the Test match?” Brian’s usual response when he hears of this is a little grin. His love of cricket is well-known, from his days of playing at Popondetta to his sharing of cricket books and stories with Phyllis in the Solomons, to say nothing of his fairly regular arrival in Brisbane when there is a test at the Gabba.

Brian is also much-loved for his sense of humour and his ability to laugh at himself. He is a man full of joy and peace: this is seen whether he is baking bread, giving some quiet advice or falling asleep as soon as the key is put in the ignition when he is being driven somewhere.

In his many years in SSF, Brian has repeatedly asked permission to lead a life of prayer as a hermit. He has tried to do this a number of times: first at Alangaula in the Solomons, but not long afterwards he was asked to be Novice Guardian. He tried again at Stroud in New South Wales, only to be elected Minister Provincial of the ANZ Province. After he completed that term of office, he tried again at Stroud and then he was called by the wider SSF brothers to be Minister General of the First Order. In all this time while holding office, Brian has kept up his life of prayer, taking his hermitage with him, while being obedient to the call of our community. His presence in any of our houses seems to add an air of peace and stability. From 1st July, he is now again going to reside at Stroud, where he has truly sunk roots, with the added burden or joy that he has been asked to write some books to aid our young brothers in the Pacific Islands Province with their study. I am sure his great gifts as a spiritual director and retreat conductor will also be in great demand.

Thank you, Brian, for your example in living your life as a follower of our Lord in the way of Saint Francis.

Ministerial Appointments

Damian was re-elected as Minister Provincial SSF in the European Province, for a further term of five years. He has
re-appointed Samuel as his Assistant Minister and John Francis as the new Novice Guardian.
Colin Wilfred has been elected to succeed Daniel as Minister Provincial of the Australia/New Zealand Province.
Daniel has appointed Paschal as General Secretary of the First Order Brothers world-wide, in succession to Tristam, who has completed fourteen years in the rôle.

Provincial Migrant

Bruce-Paul has arrived in the UK from the Australia/New Zealand Province, where he has lived for the last twenty-two years. His particular interest is in the integration of ministry formation and spirituality, and he has recently pursued this in his studies for a postgraduate degree from General Theological Seminary in New York.

Alnmouth Activities

Hospitality to guests remains a vital part of the ministry of Alnmouth Friary and various improvements to the house have been made in recent months. The cloister has been beautifully tiled and, through the labours of a local joiner, has now been enclosed, although two pairs of doors can still be opened on summer days. This means that the Blessed Sacrament Chapel can be kept warm on winter days, and this work was carried out in conjunction with a major overhaul of the heating system of the entire house. Facilities for disabled guests have been improved, especially with the addition of hand-rails and ramps in the beautiful gardens. A new prayer hut has recently been erected in a small enclosure garden. The numbers of both guests and day visitors finding their way to the Friary remain high.

Interfaith Encounter

Palm Sunday weekend saw probably the last of a number of annual visits to Compton Durville by students from the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of London University. Led by one of their lecturers, now retired, the students, of many nationalities and of all faiths and none, met to study a theme together, had a chance to talk to some of the sisters about their life, and the opportunity to join them in chapel if they wished. Meal times became an occasion of stimulating theological discussion; and this year the sisters had the joy of joining the students in thanksgiving for the marriage of two of their number, one of Jewish origin, one a Muslim, who had first met on a previous visit a few years ago

Ecumenical Pilgrimage

On Saturday April 12th, hundreds of Franciscans gathered at the Franciscan Study Centre, Canterbury, for an ecumenical service, prior to a walk of witness from Greyfriars to Canterbury Cathedral for choral Evensong. SSF was well represented by many brothers and sisters of the First and Third Orders. This was undoubtedly the largest assembly of Franciscans in Canterbury since 1974, when the seven-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the first Franciscans in England was celebrated.

Franciscan Lecture

Dr Petà Dunstan, the Librarian of the Divinity Faculty at the University of Cambridge, gave the 1997 Annual Franciscan Lecture at Hilfield during the Brothers’ Provincial General Chapter in June. Her lecture discussed the origins of the Society and the individual charism of three of the founders. This serious re-assessment of some of the caricatures and myths SSF has inherited was enthusiastically received by the brothers; it also whetted their appetite for Dr Dunstan’s book, This Poor Sort, a history of the Brothers in the European Province of SSF, which has now been published.


In July the remaining members of the ‘new’ CSF house in Birmingham arrived: Angela Mary, Elizabeth, Veronica and May CP from Hythe, and Alison Mary, Angela Helen and Barbara from Compton ... Chad San Andres and Nicholas Alan have moved to SSF’s new house at Ley Hill, Birmingham ... Robert has moved to Plaistow ... Rowan Clare has moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Beverley to Compton Durville ... Rose has moved to Brixton ... Oswin Paul, Christopher and Martin Philip move to Glasshampton in early September ...Sue moves to Brixton in early October.
David Francis and Alan were ordained priest in June: David in Edinburgh and Alan in Newcastle.
Kentigern John has been elected to the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
David expects to be professed in first vows on 12 September at Hilfield.
Reginald is making a good recovery after major heart surgery.
Jason has been granted Leave of Absence. Joyce Griffin and Jean Te Puna have been released from first vows ... Mark Nicholas has been secularised. §


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